The Government has pinched an idea for cut-price bus fares from Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin.

Mayor Brabin capped fares at £2 per journey across West Yorkshire for three years and now, from January, the Government will match the £2 single fare throughout the rest of the country – for three months.

Ms Brabin introduced Mayor’s Fares in West Yorkshire in September and recently told a meeting of Kirklees Council how Government officials were on the phone to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority asking how they’d done it.

Now the Government has copied the idea with a Help for Households scheme to encourage more people back onto the buses after the pandemic.

“We’ve always been pioneers in West Yorkshire so I’m pleased that we had an idea we rolled out last September, and that Government have picked up on our good practice,” said Ms Brabin.

“Sadly, for most of the people in England it’s only going to be for three months. Here in West Yorkshire we have committed to three years.

“It’s in response to the cost-of-living crisis but also to get more people on the bus and to tackle the climate emergency and it’s proving successful.

“Obviously there’s been a shortfall in patronage because of Covid but with young people, in particular, we are back to pre-Covid levels and are seeing the Mayor’s Fares having an impact.”

A Team Pennine bus in St George’s Square

The Government scheme has been welcomed by bus operator Transdev, which runs Team Pennine services around Huddersfield and Holmfirth, but also operates across North Yorkshire and out to the coast.

That means between January and March there are big savings to be made on longer journeys to popular tourist destinations.

The maximum £2 fare includes the marathon 84-mile journey from Leeds to Whitby, voted Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route in a national poll of bus users.

More Yorkshire examples include:

  • Leeds to Scarborough by Coastliner, distance 74 miles: was £15, now £2, saving 87%;
  • Ripon to Leeds on The 36, distance 29 miles: was £7.50, now £2, saving 73%;
  • Harrogate to Bradford on FLYER A2, distance 22 miles: was £5.40, now £2, saving 63%;
  • Keighley to Skipton on Dalesway, distance 11 miles: was £3.70, now £2, saving 46%.

Transdev CEO Alex Hornby said: “Thanks to our continued partnership with industry partners and UK Government, we are delighted to be able to offer this amazing promotion to our customers across Yorkshire and into Lancashire and Greater Manchester, starting in January 2023.

“We’ve been among the most successful operators in the country in attracting customers back to buses post-pandemic.

“Even so, we know there are still some who have yet to return to our routes and especially during the current cost-of-living crisis, we hope this money-saving promotion will attract them back on board.”

Buses Minister Richard Holden MP said: “Bus travel remains the most popular form of public transport in England, making up around half of all journeys. That’s why we’re investing £60 million to cap single bus fares at £2 to support every passenger and help get people back on the bus.

“With the scheme set to take two million car journeys off the road, it’s fantastic to see so many bus operators signing up to the fare cap, helping people to ‘Get Around for £2’ between the start of January and the end of March.”